Finding Hakuna Matata Before Your Disney Trip

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Planning a trip to Walt Disney World is thrilling, frustrating, and time-consuming. There are exhaustive message boards to peruse, elusive dining reservations to obtain, and endless magical possibilities to anticipate.

Whether it’s your first trip or your 50th, it’s difficult not to worry, no matter how many times you repeat “Hakuna Matata” to yourself. Here are seven worries for the seven days before your Disney trip, and how you can ultimately spin those worries into excitement.

7 Days Before: “What if I can’t do everything?”

Would you visit a major international city like London or New York and expect to be able to do everything in one visit? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. There’s just too much ground to cover. The same is true of Disney World.

You’ll have countless wonderful experiences on your vacation. Let them add up on their own. There’s a difference between planning and cramming. Planning creates a roadmap that provides a sense of confidence. Cramming is an exhausting way to travel. Acknowledging that you won’t be able to see everything allows you to fully appreciate what you do experience. Anything you miss will be a reason to return.

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6 Days Before: “I hate all the clothes I own.”

Although there is a France pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot, Disney World is not Paris Fashion Week. You’re there to have fun, not to be seen. Days before your trip is not the time to purchase a fresh wardrobe. Everyone wants to look their best in photos, but you’re commemorating meeting Princess Tiana or seeing Cinderella Castle for the first time, not your hot new pair of jeans.

You’ll want to have spent significant time already in everything you pack, especially your shoes. Focus on being comfortable. A comfortable you is a happy you, and a happy you will look great in photos. Photos that will keep the memory of your vacation alive for years to come.

5 Days Before: “Something will go wrong en route.”

It’s not just kids who are anxious to get to Disney World. Adults can be just as bad, if not worse. Plan something to curb this anxiety. It’s easy to forget that getting there can be part of your vacation, too.

Bring a trashy book you’d never be seen reading in public back home. Download the podcast that puts your husband to sleep. Pack a snack too extravagant for your everyday routine. One or two little indulgences can make delays far more palatable. When you arrive, you’ll be so excited that any and all negative aspects of your journey will melt away. Free yourself from worrying about them in the first place.

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4 Days Before: “Something will go wrong when I’m there.”

It will. That’s how travel works. The good news? An estimated 52 million people visited Disney World in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. That’s 52 million people with 52 million problems, and they all made it through just fine. You will, too.

You’d have to be out of this world special to have an issue during your vacation that Disney hasn’t dealt with before in some way or form. They’ve seen it all. Take comfort in that fact. This can be especially easy to stress about if you’re used to having a car, but will be forgoing one while staying on property. Remember that the real world is right outside the Disney bubble. Whatever you need is a short rideshare away.

3 Days Before: “The trip will be ruined if…”

You’re on property and you’re feeling good, but then something unexpected happens: the Haunted Mansion closes for four days without warning, the limited time snack you were dying to try has disappeared, or the weather turns bad the night you’ve planned to see Happily Ever After.

Before you leave, everyone in your group should pick three things they’re most looking forward to. That way, if something happens to one of those things, there’s still two more to focus on. Pinning a very expensive vacation on one specific experience is a recipe for disaster. Remember that the only person who can decide your vacation is ruined is you. Don’t make that choice for yourself.

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2 Days Before: “I’m not going to get the dining reservations I want.”

Savvy Disney World fans know that dining reservations for even the hardest to book restaurants often become available 48 hours out. Many guests cancel right before the 24-hour mark to avoid the $10 per person no show penalty. Competition for this last minute availability can be fierce, but worth trying.

If you just can’t find your way into a restaurant, show up, be super nice at the host stand, and offer to wait. You’ll either get lucky, or you’ll wait long enough to realize that Disney World is so much bigger than just one place to eat.

1 Day Before: “But I want to try all the cupcakes…”

There’s no way to spin this one: The human stomach has limits. Worrying about cupcakes is silly, but that’s a good thing. It that means you’re not worried about accomplishing it all, or about the problems you might encounter, or about letting one thing “ruin” your vacation.

Congratulations! Worrying about cupcakes means you’re already starting to have fun. And why shouldn’t you? You’re going to Disney World! That’s something to get excited about.

Frank Paiva is a writer and performer living in New York City. They once danced onstage at a Powerline concert with their father.

Frank has visited all 12 Disney theme parks around the world. Their favorites are Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Animal Kingdom.


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